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The courts recognise the close connection between family breakdown and violence, and the detrimental impact on both adult victims and children living with family violence. Protecting family members, and particularly children, from the effects of family violence is central to all determinations of what is in a child’s best interest. Ensuring the safety of all people engaged in the family law system, including when attending court, is also a high priority for the courts.

Definition of Family Violence

Family violence is defined in section 4AB of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) (the ‘Act’). The Act recognises that family and domestic violence takes many forms. These can be physical, sexual, emotional, or psychological.

The following are some examples of circumstances that will constitute family violence:

  • Assault (including sexual assault or other sexually abusive behaviour);
  • Stalking;
  • Making repeated derogatory taunts;
  • Destroying or intentionally damaging property;
  • Intentionally injuring or causing death to an animal; or
  • Restricting access to money, to family members or to cultural support, or limiting social independence.


Exposing a Child to Family Violence

Issues of family violence and child abuse have a prominent place in the Act and, in particular, in Part VII which concerns children.

Exposing children to family and domestic violence is regarded as child abuse. The consequence of family violence on children are significant. Under the law, children have a right to enjoy a meaningful relationship with their parents and be protected from harm. The Family Court will prioritise the safety of the children when making parenting orders as the Court will take into consideration the best interests of the children.

If you are facing domestic violence, do not be afraid to seek help. Below are a few avenues and support lines you could contact:


SA Police

Police assistance and emergency response

P: 131 444 OR 000 in an emergency


Domestic Violence Crisis Line

Emergency Accommodation & After Hours Support

P: 1800 800 098


Child Abuse Report Line Report child abuse

P: 13 14 78



If you need to seek legal advice, legal representation or if you have a charge for Domestic Violence and would like to find out more about your rights and options, Straits Lawyers are here to help. Simply send us an email at or give us a call on 8410 9069 to arrange an appointment for an online interview.


Please note that this article does not constitute legal advice and Straits Lawyers will not be legally responsible for any actions you take based on this article.